Michael Carney Michael Carney
Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation


May 15, 2023


A shocking number of Americans can't name a single branch of our government. It's hard to believe, but it's the truth. The recent national civics test scores for eighth-graders point to a significant problem. Meanwhile, AI and other technologies are rapidly evolving, transforming jobs and society in ways we're still figuring out.

What does this mean for all of us, and why should we care?

Understanding Civics: An Antidote to Division

Today, it feels like we all can't agree on anything. But learning about civics, or how our society works, can help us understand each other better. A study by the American Political Science Association found that students who learn about civics are better at understanding other people's points of view, even if they don't agree. We need this kind of understanding to work together, whether it's in school, at work, or in our neighborhoods.

Research also suggests that a robust civics education promotes critical thinking and shields us from falling into rigid political beliefs. It helps us maintain an open mind, which is vital for innovation and collaboration.

Programs like the National Civics Bee, started by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, are doing an outstanding job at this. This program, which involves partnerships with state and local chambers across the country, is helping children and parents better understand democracy and their roles within it.

Better Skills, Better Jobs

Understanding civics doesn't just make us better citizens—it can also improve our work skills. Civics education fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, negotiation, and effective communication—skills highly sought by employers. According to a LinkedIn survey, these "soft skills" are as essential to employers as technical skills.

Moreover, a white paper commissioned by the U.S. Chamber Foundation from Harvard Business Review underlines the importance of civic knowledge in the workplace. It found that those with a firm grasp of civics were more likely to assume leadership roles in their workplaces and communities. They're the ones who step up, bring about positive changes, and lead us forward.

In Conclusion

Civics is not just a school subject. It's how we understand our society and our roles in it. It's about respecting one another, keeping an open mind, and working for the common good. And it's something we need now more than ever.

So, let's make a commitment—together—to raise civics to a national priority. For the sake of our future, our jobs, and our democracy. For a stronger, more prosperous America. Let's remember the words of our first president, George Washington: "In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

Let's work to enlighten our understanding and build a prosperous future.

TAKE ACTION TODAY: Let us know how we can help you support civics education and shape a future where critical thinking and engaged citizenship thrive. Contact us today at civics@uschamber.com.

About the authors

Michael Carney

Michael Carney

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